Generally, if someone is a citizen from a foreign country and they wish
to visit the United States, the first order of business is for them to
obtain a visa.
The individual would have to obtain either a nonimmigrant visa, which is
meant for temporary stays, or an immigrant
visa, which is for individuals seeking a permanent residence.
The exchange visitor visa is known as the J-1; this visa is a nonimmigrant
visa for individuals who have been approved to take part in an exchange
visitor program here in the United States.
Exchange visitors include, but are not limited to:
- College students
- Camp counselors
- Au pairs and EduCares
In addition to the above, there are also exchange visitor pilot programs
including summer work and travel for Australians and New Zealanders and
work/travel programs for South Koreans and the Irish.
Can I travel to the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program?
If you’re an exchange visitor and you happen to be a citizen of a
Visa Waiver Program (VWP) participating country, you are not allowed to
enter the U.S. without a J-1 visa if your reason for coming to the U.S.
is to be a part of an exchange visitor program.
Also, if you are an exchange visitor, you cannot come to the U.S. on a
business/tourist visa (B-1/B-2) if you’re visiting the U.S. on an
exchange visitor program. Essentially,
all exchange visitors must come to the United States via an exchange visitor
visa (J-1), and not by any other means.
Applying for a J-1 Visa
Before you can apply for a J-1 visa, first you must be accepted into the
exchange visitor program of your choice. Once you are accepted, you will
be enrolled into the Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and will
be required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.
In order to apply for the J-1 visa, you will have to complete a series
of steps, which differ depending upon which U.S. Embassy or Consulate
you apply at.
To learn more about coming to the U.S. as an exchange visitor, please
consult with one of our Plano immigration attorneys.